Day 22: Hands on with Turtles and Tasting Man O’ Wars

Tyler here with another fantastic story from our day in the bay and well…. a lot has happened since the last time you heard from the 403 blog. Last night we powered through the results section that we turned in this morning, but that was actually fairly easy to deal with compared to the giant, man-eating spiders that we stumbled upon around the island after the BBQ. At least the spiders made the centipede seem alright though. Sadly, we also lost two of our island ducklings last night. Tess (possible suspect) was there to hold the ducklings in their last moments and give them a proper burial.

This morning we began in the classroom with our special guest Shandell Brunson from NOAA. Today we were given the once in a lifetime opportunity to witness and help with a turtle lavage to see what our green friends have been feeding on. After a quick discussion to come up with a game plan, we headed to the boats and took a ride out to a fringing reef near patch reef 25. Jake and Tess hopped in the water to follow Shandell and began their search for turtles. Within the first couple minutes, Shandell comes up with a flapping turtle! Jake and Tess brought the little guy back to the boat where Aubreigh and I hauled the whopping 20-pound turtle onto the deck. The team switched roles and before you know it we have three turtles on board. We swam out to meet Shandell wit the fourth and final turtle. Aubreigh and I made it to and secured the turtle to bring back, gave each other the “good to go head nod”, and that’s when IT happened. I go to put my snorkel in my mouth, when I get hit with a pain I didn’t know existed. I put a man o’ war in my mouth……my freakin mouth. It definitely goes down as one of the worst experiences I have ever had. Although my mouth felt like the inside of a volcano, we hurried back to get our turtle pal onto the boat to continue our mission. While my soul was getting ripped from my body, the class began to measure the turtles’ carapaces and etch ID numbers in the shell of the turtles. The turtles were each given a unique ID and they were given pit tags like the ones dogs and cats get. Finally, we performed lavages on the turtles before sending them on their way. Each lavage was successful, and it looks like all of the turtles have been munching on some good ole Gracilaria. The experience we had today will be something that we all will remember for the rest of our lives and we are all grateful for the opportunity Shandell gave us. Now, with only a few days left, it’s time to start wrapping up our project and paper. So long for now.

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